The Chola Dynasty was a Tamil-speaking dynasty of Deccanese origin that, from roughly 300 BC to AD 1279, ruled a vast area of the Deccan, India, and south-east Asia.

The earliest Cholas are estimated to have founded a state in the valley of the Kaveri River sometime in the 300s BC, though that far back it is difficult to distinguish history from legend. Their kingdom flourished for about 600 years before being subjugated by the Pallava Empire and then the Pandyas, but the dynasty survived and returned to power in the late 9th century as the Pallavas and Pandyas fought each other to a standstill. By the year 985 Chola had surpassed them both, becoming the single greatest power in all of southern India, and was beginning to expand overseas.

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